United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
B. LEIGHTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on competing Motions for Summary
Judgment [Dkts. 63 & 66]. The facts of the case are
described in prior Orders. [Dkt. #s 28, 38, 53, 57 and 62]
last remaining defendant, State Trooper Smarr, argues that he
had probable cause to arrest Longacre for driving with a
suspended license, and that he is entitled to qualified
immunity even if he did violate Longacre's constitutional
rights. He argues that he did not have any personal
participation in the conduct Longacre alleges about the
other, since-dismissed defendants, including Mason County and
Wilber and Associates.
Summary Judgment Motion [Dkt. # 66] argues that the dismissal
of his misdemeanor arrest established as a matter of law that
Smarr did not have probable cause for his arrest,
and that Smarr violated his rights by failing to establish
individualized probable cause before making the arrest. For
the reasons below, Longacre's Motion is
DENIED. Smarr's Motion is
GRANTED, and Longacre's claims against
Smarr are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
4, 2015, Trooper Smarr approached a motorist in the Lake
Cushman area who was stuck in a ditch. A Mason County Sheriff
deputy was already on site. Two men, including Longacre, were
attaching a “tow strap” to the disabled vehicle
and to their pick-up. Smarr suspected the woman who drove the
car into the ditch was intoxicated. Longacre informed Trooper
Smarr that they would drive the woman's car and the
pick-up away from the scene and drive to a nearby property
owned by Longacre. Trooper Smarr obtained Longacre's
license and ran a check to verify his ability to drive
lawfully. Smarr's check of Washington Department of
Licensing records revealed that Longacre's drivers'
license was suspended. After Smarr informed Longacre his
status as suspended driver, Longacre got into the pick-up and
pulled the disabled car out of the ditch and onto the
highway. Smarr determined he had probable cause to arrest
Longacre for driving on a suspended license in violation of
was incarcerated in the jail and released later that same
morning. Longacre claims that the charges were dismissed
without a trial, although no proof of the dismissal in paper
form is provided to this Court.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is proper “if the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In determining whether an issue of fact
exists, the Court must view all evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50 (1986); Bagdadi v.
Nazar, 84 F.3d 1194, 1197 (9th Cir. 1996). A genuine
issue of material fact exists where there is sufficient
evidence for a reasonable factfinder to find for the
nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The
inquiry is “whether the evidence presents a sufficient
disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.” Id. at 251-52. The moving party bears
the initial burden of showing that there is no evidence which
supports an element essential to the nonmovant's claim.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
Once the movant has met this burden, the nonmoving party then
must show that there is a genuine issue for trial.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. If the nonmoving party
fails to establish the existence of a genuine issue of
material fact, “the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex, 477
U.S. at 323-24. There is no requirement that the moving party
negate elements of the non-movant's case. Lujan v.
National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871 (1990). Once
the moving party has met its burden, the non-movant must then
produce concrete evidence, without merely relying on
allegations in the pleadings, that there remain genuine
factual issues. Anderson, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Qualified Immunity Bars Longacre's Claims Under 42 U.S.C.
immunity shields government officials from liability under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 unless their conduct violates clearly
established constitutional rights. Saucier v. Katz,
533 U.S. 194, 201, 121 S.Ct. 2151, 150 L.Ed.2d 272 (2001).
Entitlement to qualified immunity is a question of law.
Elder v. Holloway, 510 U.S. 510, 516, 114 S.Ct.
1019, 127 L.Ed.2d 344 (1994).
determining whether Trooper Smarr is entitled to qualified
immunity, the Court engages in a two-part analysis, looking
to whether the alleged facts implicate the violation of a
constitutional right, and whether the right was
“clearly established” at the time of the alleged
violation. Saucier, 533 U.S. at 201. The Court may
consider those factors in any order it chooses. Pearson
v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236, 129 S.Ct. 808, 818, 172
L.Ed.2d 565 (2009).
Trooper Smarr Did Not Violate Longacre's ...